Thursday, October 16, 2014

I survived the River

I had been on rivers before.  I've done some daily trips down the Colorado River out of Moab.  My first overnight trip was in Costa Rica.  We rafted down and stayed at a lodge with running water and flush toilets.  I told Murray he had ruined me for ever using the groover (explained later if you don't know what it is).  My second trip was down the Colorado through Cataract Canyon from Moab to Lake Powell.  It was a two night three day trip and I used the groover just fine.  And my last river trip before this one was 6 days, 5 nights.  On that one I came close to ringing someone's neck.  So considering I was going to embark on a 21 day trip with 12 people I did not know, I was a little nervous.  

My nervousness had to do with not only the 12 people I did not know, but being a Hilton girl, I was not sure if I would survive the camping for 21 days.  Twenty-one days without a proper toilet, shower, bath, or bed was going to be the test of my wills.  But once we pushed off from Lee's Ferry there would be no turning back.  And so we pushed off.

Prior to going on the trip, someone had told me to lose all my inhibitions during the trip.  And so I went on this trip with that in my mind.  I was going to have to get naked in front of people, crap in a can sometimes in front of people, and bath along a river where other people not on my trip were going to be floating by.  That advice was the best I had received for the trip.  I lost inhibitions for sure.

Was the trip lift altering?  Oh hell yea!  I keep saying I don't ever have to camp again.  :)  I told Murray I would never have to do another trip down the canyon again, but give me a while and I will probably say hell yes.  I was 21 days without technology and it was awesome.  

This was a private trip so we cooked, cleaned, packed/unpacked, set up, etc. by ourselves.  There were five rafts with tons of gear from cooking to tents to chairs to cots.  Every thing went in the same place every time we packed and believe me we packed a ton.  And then unpacked.  There were four cook/clean groups, two people who handled the groover, and one person who handled the food.  We had hired a company to shop and plan our meals, but we cooked those meals and kind of went shopping in the coolers and storage containers.  So the four groups were A, B, C, D.  The first day Group A cooked dinner, breakfast, and lunch.  Group B cleaned up dinner and breakfast.  Then Group B would do dinner, breakfast, and lunch.  And so on.  It worked really well.  Every couple of days, I would have a couple days off.  Murray was in Group C so we would also have a day off of chores together.  

Our days were pretty much the same every day.  Get up, pack up, eat breakfast, load the boats, raft down the river, hike some, get to camp, unload, eat dinner, go to sleep.  Again and again and again.  We had three days where we laid over at a particular camp for a second night.  The packing and unpacking is what really tended to wear on me.  

During the day on the river, we might stop to hike or check out some rock art.  Usually there were a couple of stops if there were big rapids for the boatpeople (boatmen) to scout the rapid to see what was the safest way to go.  But again, it was the same, but different every day.  

I was the only one to get somewhat sick during the trip.  The tamales that we ate that night did not agree with my inners and starting at 2am starting removing themselves from my body.  And it continued into the next day.  This is where losing all inhibitions comes to full tilt.  We were heading down the river, when I realized I was going to have to use the day groover.  So let me explain the day take this box and head into the bushes, that is if you have bushes to head to.  I did not.  You open the box, take out a brown paper lunch bag and open it completely up, then make a nest with some toilet paper, crap, fold up the corners, and place that inside another brown bag.  So where we pulled over, I had to scramble up the rocks and was in full view of everyone.  That day it wasn't just us on that particular section of the river, but also a commercial group.  And so I got to squat right in front of them.  After stopping at the Doll House and going through the rapid there, I was pretty sure I was going to puke in front of the commercial group as well.  But no need to worry because the next day while I was bathing in the mucky muddy water, they floated by again.  

I believe it was a couple of days later when I would get my first (and last) chance to row the boat.  You would think that having a husband who is all about rafting that I would have put my hands on the oars before this moment, but nope.  I have paddled an inflatable kayak before, but never a raft.  The day before when I was riding on another boat, the boatperson said well you should know a few strokes in case your boatman goes out of the boat.  Unfortunately, it wasn't a good day for her to teach me those few strokes.  But fear not, I got my chance the next day and remarkably kept the raft upright and off the wall.  We scouted Crystal and were the fourth boat to go through I believe.  We entered the rapid and as the big wave was coming, Murray yelled "HOLD ON" so I did.  We, well I guess now I, went through it and I caught something out of the corner of my eye.  When I looked over I saw Murray floating by.  I did not hesitate and immediately jumped on the oars.  Not because I knew what the fuck to do, but I thought it was the right thing to do.  And somehow I pulled or pushed and struggled through keeping the raft upright and off the wall.  A kayaker finally came, climbed aboard, and stroked three times to an eddy.  

There were many highlights of the trip but I think the photos will describe those the best.  I can't explain the river or what it did to me.  I survived it and loved it and hated it and embraced it and cursed it.  But it was all worth it.  One day you might get your chance and if you do, I suggest you take it, but most importantly lose all your inhibitions.  

I said I would explain the groover for those of you that don't know it....the reason it has the name groover is before the toilet seat went on it, you would just sit on the boat and get grooves on your legs.  But today things are more sophisticated.  First there is a bucket to pee in, and then the box to crap in, and then the hand washing station.  And 99% of the time the groover has an awesome view.  

The groover  
                                      The groover view                                         

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